Thursday, January 1, 2009

One Nation, Independent of God

Apologies in advance for any drop in the quality of writing -- this will be my first post in a couple of weeks.

I've been reviewing my religious views of late, and am leaning more towards agnostic than atheist (some readers will remember a few posts outlining ardent atheism over the past two years). But I leave my religion (or lack thereof) at the door for this post, and I request before you read further that you try to do the same.

The Pledge of Allegiance, in its original form, read:

I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

There were minor changes made in the 1920s --"my flag" was eventually changed to "the flag of the United States of America"--but in 1954, the age of McCarthyism (mind you, it was only two years later that, in an effort to further distance ourselves from "the godless communists", the national motto was made "In God We Trust"), two words were added that completely twisted the pledge: "Under God".

Ignoring the personal offense I take from President Eisenhower's statement on the matter (which says, in part, that the addition would highlight "the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man"), I see this as being extremely dangerous.

Keep in mind that the First Amendment, stating that Congress would "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", was adopted in 1791.

Keep in mind that President Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists, supporting with "sovereign reverence" the First Amendment's "wall of separation between church and state", was written in 1802.

Keep in mind that the Treaty of Tripoli, explicitly pointing out that "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion", was ratified by the Senate unanimously in 1797.

As you mull that over, tell me something. Given the 150-plus year gap between the establishment and initial clarification of secularism in our government, and the use of blatantly theistic diction in a pledge to the very symbol of our liberty, who do you think has seniority in the matter?

Glad to be back.

2 comments:

Bowly said...

The controversy for me is not the "under God" distraction. It's the fact that we're indoctrinating children to mindlessly recite loyalty oaths to the state. Imagine my lack of surprise when I learned it was written by a Baptist minister who lost his pulpit because of his socialist beliefs. Never mind the fact that children are not mentally developed enough to truly understand what an oath is (do we let children get married?).

While I'm on the subject, "The Star Spangled Banner" sucks as a national anthem. It's dull, and the range is an octave and a fifth--well outside the range of the average person. It's hard to believe that the melody began as a drinking song.

Mat Marshall said...

Bowly:

A valid point, I take much more issue with combining a pledge to state and church at the same time than simply pledging to the state. Perhaps I'm biased.